The Director-General of the National Library of Australia, Ms Anne-Marie Schwirtlich, today welcomed the 50,000th visitor to the Library’s summer blockbuster exhibition, Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia.

The exhibition, featuring many of the greatest maps in the world, opened at the National Library in Canberra on 7 November, 2013. Since then, up to 1000 people have enjoyed the exhibition daily, with a timed ticketing system in place to ensure that everyone gets a chance to see it.

 Mapping Our World tells Australia’s story, taking visitors on a journey from medieval notions of a Great South Land to Matthew Flinders’ 1814 chart of Australia.

 One of the star attractions is Fra Mauro’s Map of the World, the circa 1450 masterpiece which, until now, has never been allowed out of its home in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice. The huge 2.4m square treasure is known as the greatest of all medieval maps.

‘We knew that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see many of the world’s greatest maps, under one roof, for free, would be popular,’ Ms Schwirtlich said, ‘but we had no idea of just how popular. To already have 50,000 people through by the beginning of January is wonderful.

 ‘In the first week of the exhibition alone we had 6,523 visitors – this compares to 2,587 visitors who came for the first week of our last blockbuster, Handwritten.’

 During the Christmas break, from December 21 to January 5, a total of 12,523 visitors came through the exhibition, with many sessions booked out.

 Exhibition visitors have left scores of comments like ‘thank you for bringing these masterpieces to us for free’. 

‘So, as there won’t be another chance for people to see the maps, globes, atlases and scientific instruments that inspired the idea of Australia in an exhibition like this, I encourage everyone to book their free tickets now,’ Ms Schwirtlich said. 

Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia runs until 10 March 2014 at the National Library of Australia, Canberra.

Free exhibition but bookings essential at


The 50,000th visitor to Mapping Our World will be welcomed to the National Library at about 10am today by the Director-General, Ms Anne-Marie Schwirtlich, and will be presented with a gift to mark the occasion.

 Media Contact: Sally Hopman, Media Liaison Manager, National Library of Australia 

T: 02 6262 1704

M: 0401 226 697